Nikola rebuts fraud claims but acknowledges that its truck wasn’t driving itself – CNBC

Founder of Nikola, Trevor Milton speaks during presentation of its new full-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell battery trucks in partnership with CNH Industrial, at an event in Turin, Italy December 2, 2019.

Massimo Pinca Reuters

Shares of Nikola recovered from early losses Monday as the electric vehicle start-up disputed fraud claims made last week by short-selling firm Hindenburg Research.

In a statement Monday, the company said there were “dozens” of inaccurate allegations in the report, and it outlined specific examples.

But Nikola isn’t disputing one of Hindenburg’s largest claims — that it staged a video showing a truck that appeared to be functional but wasn’t, as well as claims that the truck was fully functional. 

Nikola shares closed Monday at $35.79, up 11% following the rebuttal as well as comments from Nikola CFO Kim Brady, who reassured investors the company’s plans remain on track. He also reconfirmed comments made last week that detailed billions in potential cost savings from announced partnerships, and specifically called out its plans with General Motors.

Nikola said it anticipated saving “over $4 billion in battery and powertrain costs over 10 years and over $1 billion in engineering and validation costs.”

“I think it’s offensive to our strategic partners that you have a short seller who’s doing a hack job and essentially pointing fingers at our strategic partners that they don’t know what they’re doing,” Brady said during an RBC Capital Markets conference. “I would suggest it’s ridiculous to think they haven’t done a deep dive; much more deep dive than what any third party short seller would be able to perform.”

Regarding the video, Nikola said it “never stated its truck was driving under its own propulsion in the video, although the truck was designed to do just that.” However,